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It’s Christmas time again and many of our personal training clients are asking us what is the best way to survive the holiday season without getting as big as a house so over the next few blogs I’ll be having a look at some handy personal trainer tips for keeping the bulge under control. The first tip to keep in mind is portion control. Many of us approach a meal with the view that so long as what we are eating is reasonably healthy then all will be well. But even with healthy foods portion size has a big influence on how many calories you are consuming. With unhealthy, fatter foods the situation can go rapidly downhill.
As an exampe I’m going to have a look at cereal. In a recent test at Which magazine, 5 adults were asked to pour themselves a cereal breakfast and add milk and sugar (if they had any). The recommended serving (the one used on the side of the package for the calorie calculations) is 40g, before adding milk, which comes to 144kcal. All the volunteers added more than the suggested serving-four at least twice as much-with calories per bowl ranging from 223 to 535kcal. Translate this extra variation of portion size into christmas pudding and you can begin to see where it can all add up. The variation also continued into sugar added, which in the test ranged from 14.3g to 34.3g per bowl. The amount of milk added also varied widely, with some adding almost 3 times as much as others. This portion variation follows research by the FSA (food standards agency) in 2007 which found that 85% of people had more than the recommended amount for breakfast, as stated on the packaging. So if you regularly read the information on the side of the package to find out how many calories you are having, or how much sugar, salt and fat is in your food, bear in mind that the portion size you eat may not be the same as the one that you are basing your calculations on. It may actually be a lot more than you think. There are of course variations in calorific requirements depending on activity levels, size, body shape and gender, but these guidelines can still be misleading. In the test the total amount of calories for one person was 641 calories.
So what we at Diets Don’t Work personal training recommend, for all meals, is watch your portion size. A good tip is to serve yourself a small portion of everything on the table for christmas dinner, eat it at a steady pace, and then wait a bit to see if you really are still hungry. Be especially careful with foods that have a higher calorie density, like the deadly christmas pudding, the biscuits and the cheese! Keep activity levels as high as you can, so try not to eat lots and then sit down for 2 hours to watch the Wallace and Grommit christmas special, go for a bracing walk first and then relax. Another great tip is to try and have a smaller plate or a smaller bowl-people who try this technique were found to consume up to 30% less calories.
Be as good as you can, and always try to follow the magic personal trainer rule of 80/20-eat like an angel for 80% of the time so that you can let it go a bit for the other 20%. Happy Holidays!
The folowing article is taken from BBC health news and has been on all the major media carriers today. As personal trainers who train at home, we at Diets Don’t Work have a rare glimpse into peoples lives, getting more of a chance to see how our clients and their children live from a more personal angle than your traditional gym based personal trainer. I will say this; it’s VERY rare that parents who eat well and have a positive attitude to exercise have fat kids. Yes we do need govermnemt to invest more into sports, but rather that constant nannying and warnings about food what might work beter is a more positive approach-“look how good you will feel and look if you eat well and exercise” might be a more persuasive message. “Look at how attrictive and sexy you are, how good you are at sport, and how clear headed and positive you are” might also be good to hear. We are warned and cotton-wolled all too often, sometimes encouragement can be highly motivating. It’s just one of my own opinions! (the ed).
Compared to children in the 1980s, today’s youngsters are fatter and most of their excess weight gain happens before school age, they will say. This suggests initiatives to prevent childhood obesity should be started before school, suggest the authors. The EarlyBird Diabetes study of 233 children from birth to puberty is being published in the journal Pediatrics. One in four children aged four to five in England are overweight, latest figures show.
Disease ‘of our time’
At birth, the children in the study were of similar weight to babies 25 years ago, but had gained more fat by puberty compared with children of the same age in the 1980s.
When they reach the age of five the die seems to be cast
Professor Terry Wilkin
Peninsula Medical School
The bulk of this excess weight was gained before the children were five. Weight at five years bore little relation to birth weight, but closely predicted weight at nine years old. Before an obese girl reaches school age she will have already gained 90% of her excess weight, and boys will have gained 70% of their excess weight. Lead researcher Professor Terry Wilkin, of the Peninsula Medical School, Plymouth, said: “When they reach the age of five the die seems to be cast, at least until the age of puberty. “What is causing it is very difficult to know.” He said there must be a factor now that was not there 25 years ago which is making today’s children obese. And, given the young age, this is likely to be in a child’s home rather than school environment and linked to upbringing rather than schooling.
Rather than lack of physical exercise, he believes diet could be to blame. “It is entirely possible that the calorie density of food and portion sizes could be higher.He said strategies to prevent childhood obesity and its associated health problems, such as type 2 diabetes, might do better to focus on pre-school children. Professor Wilkin said there had been a lot of focus on school meals, PE time, school runs, television viewing and computer games in the development of childhood obesity, but these are all issues for school age children. But he said the mandatory measurement of the height and weight of all children in England on school entry at the age of four or five could be helpful, not only as a record of national obesity trends, but also as a pointer to future risk for the individual child.
Sir Liam Donaldson, the chief medical officer for England, said it was no exaggeration to describe soaring rates of obesity as an “impending crisis”. He said: “We need to get in early and build the foundations to healthy living from a very early stage.” However, he added: “It is never too late. Obesity is one of the few serious medical problems that can be reversed very, very quickly.” Sir Liam said eating five portions of fruit and vegetables a day was one of the most important elements of a healthy diet.
David Haslam, of the National Obesity Forum, said: “It is never too late or too early to intervene. The earlier the better in terms of long-term outlook.” He said early childhood obesity was likely to be down to environment and learned behaviours.
An annual survey has shown that despite the the continued messages on health from the government and the media, many people are baffled by mixed messages on health and don’t understand the guidelines on fruit, vegetables, alcohol and exercise. Most adults knew they should eat five portions of fruit or veg a day, but few knew what constituted a portion, the Health Survey for England found. Over two thirds did not know or under-estimated how much exercise to do. And less than a third of adults knew the maximum amount of alcohol they should be drinking each day.
Only 14% of men knew that four units was the recommended daily maximum for a man and 6% of women knew that three units was the recommended daily maximum for a woman. Overall, 42% of men and 31% of women had drunk more than the recommended maximum on at least one day in the last week. Despite the confusion, the figures published from the annual survey, which monitors the health of the nation, suggest people are leading healthier lifestyles by eating more fruit and veg and doing more exercise.
Overall, 27% of men and 31% of women met the recommended guidelines of eating five or more portions of fruit and vegetables per day. But only 14% of men and 11% of women knew what constituted a portion – 80g. From a list of varying portion sizes of fruit and vegetables – two tablespoons of carrots; two cherry tomatoes; one apple; one melon; one jacket potato; four grapes – few identified the apple as the only correct one. Yet obesity is still on the increase in adults – 24% of men and women in 2007 were obese up from 13% of men and 16% of women in 1993. In children, however, obesity rates may be beginning to level out. The survey of nearly 7,000 adults and over 7,500 children also looked at the impact of the recent smoke-free legislation introduced in July 2007.
It found no evidence that fewer people smoked as a result of the ban.
However, cotinine levels in people’s saliva – an indicator of recent nicotine exposure – showed that, since the introduction of the ban, smokers may be smoking less. Medical director of The NHS Information Centre Dr Mark Davies said: “It is of concern that the messages of safe alcohol intake, appropriate exercise levels, and healthy eating do not seem to be getting through to all parts of the population. “This is something the country needs to address if we are to avoid significant health problems in the near future.” Betty McBride of the British Heart Foundation said: “It’s really worrying that people aren’t clear how much exercise you need for a healthy heart.” Alcohol Concern said drinks manufacturers should be forced to put labels on bottles and cans of alcoholic drinks showing the unit content and safe limits. Health Minister Dawn Primarolo said: “It’s good to see that more people are taking steps to live more healthily. But too many people are overweight. In the new year we will launch our ambitious Change4Life movement. Change4Life will help families to move more, eat well and live longer.”
So what are the guidelines? As we are constantly telling our personal training clients in London, all you need is a little common sense. Try to avoid any food that has been processed or messed with in any way by man. By doing this you will be following the wholefood diet, and will get a well rounded balance of all the important food groups. There are full personal trainer insider guidelines on our fact sheets, both for nutrition and personal trainer recommendations or exercise. You can download these for free from our “The Knowledge” page. Remember that although the guidelines for cardiovascular exercise are 5 lots of 30 minutes of moderate exercise, short bursts (like interval training) can be even more effective in maintaining a healthy heart, and can improve fitness more quickly. The number of sessions you need a week at this higher intensity can drop to 3 a week and still be effective. Also remember that resistance training is a vital component of any health or weight loss programme, and will make you feel strong, functional and healthy.
We have recently expanded to cover the Leeds area for personal training. Why take personal training to Leeds? Our training director Adam Atkinson, although originally born and brought up in Barbados, returned to Yorkshire aged 12 to go to school and University in Yorkshire, attending school in York and then doing his BA at the university of Leeds. “My mum is actually from Morley, a Leeds suburb, and my dad is from Ripon, so coming back here from Barbados was not as weird as you might think. Having qualified with Premier as a personal trainer, and then gaining succes with Diets Don’t Work personal training in London and the Thames valley, Leeds seemed like the natural place to take our philosophy. Lots of my best friends still live there, we have contacts with with Premier, the main personal trainer provider in Leeds, and it’s such a progressive fun city. As the second largest banking city outside London there is also a large market that can benefit fro the DDW method of healthy living and exercise.”
We are happy to let you all know that we have taken on a new personal trainer this month who will be covering the areas of Maidenhead, Windsor, Beaconsfield and Marlow. Cleo Collins has recently completed the prestegious Dip PT with industry leaders Premier, and as well as being REPS level 3 is soon to be a master kettlebell instructor, padbox instructor, and is also a BA in Equine science, so if you have a horse she can most likely tell you what’s up with it too. Hailing from Oxfordshire Cleo is as you may have guessed a keen horse rider and enjoyes the challenging sport of polo, plus is a capable badmintion and football player.
So welcome Cleo to the Diets Don’t Work Team of personal trainers across London and the Thames Valley, we know she will do really well with her positive outlook, sporty background and super communication skills. Her profile and photo will be up shortly on our “Meet the trainers” page.
From time to time we got personal training clients who don’t need weight loss but want to get fitter and round off angles. These are usually the slighter women, those lean types that seem to be able to eat anything they want and stay skinny. They are also usually good at running, so don’t challenge any of these types to a 10k. With this type of body shape, it can be a danger that resistance training and sometimes ven cardiovascular work can increase the lean look that these personal training clients have and make them look too beefy. The trick here, if you are one of these lean mean ladies, is to stay in the endurance range for any resistance training, so use lighter weights and do more reps. It’s still really important, remember, that you do weight bearing exercise, (stronger bones, increased co-ordination etc, see previous blog on resistance training), but stick to this higher range. We also recommend that these clients try to eat more good fats-these are usually plant or vegetable oils high in unsaturated fat, and will help by adding a small layer of fat on top of the now toned muscles to give that fab strong but not too angular or skinny look that we see on stars like Jessica Alba and J-lo. We are talking small amounts here, don’t go crazy! It’s also advised to keep your resistance training to the major muscle groups; it’s not sensible if you want shapely arms, and are already fairly thin to do tons of isolation biceps work, or they really will start to bulge! And finally remember to work on that all important core, so that you are toned inside and out.
As personal trainers one of the most common obstacles we have to overcome with clients is breaking down long standing myths about exercise, nutrition, weight loss and resistance training. Resistance training is a vital part of any exercise programme, whether for weight loss or long distance running. It’s especially useful for women who want to lose weight and change their shape as it increases basal metabolic rate and so helps to burn fat all day every day; have a peek at our resistance training fact sheet on the Knowledge page. The fear in women that weight training will make them too beefy, or give them the stringy “Madonna” look is really common, but completely unfounded for several reasons.
The first reason is that women produce only a small amount of testosterone. Unlike men, the female endocrine system is more busy making the female hormones of progesterone and oestrogen. As testosterone is a big player in the development of muscles it makes it much harder for women to develop bulky muscles; indeed for you to do this you would have to go on a very specialist nutrition regime and train in a low range repetition zone to failure for several hours each day.
Once you are also training in the correct weight and repetition zone you will tone the muscles (a look and feeling of firmness in the muscles) as opposed to increasing your bulk. Once your personal trainer has you in this zone everything will begin to re-shape and firm just like you always wanted. The correct range for this is 12 to 14 repetitions, and for 2 to 3 sets of each exercise.You could go even lower, 8-12 repetitions, without much danger of getting to beefy. It is also important to go to loss of form, where for the last few repetitions of any given exercise it’s getting hard, as opposed to exercising to failure where you simply can’t do any more.
Women also have a higher percentage of body fat than men, and subsequently a lower amount of lean muscle than men. This is part of nature’s survival tactic, ensuring that should there be a famine then the child bearing-perpetuators of the species-women will survive in one piece and have children successfully.
So don’t think that bulky muscles will ever be a problem, your personal trainer would have to work you very very hard for ages to even get close. Resistance training for women is just a way to get toned shapely limbs while keeping strong bones, strong connective tissue, and burning more fat by increasing the metabolic rate!
Are statins the new wonder drug? Does it mean that you can get away with no exercise, and bin your personal trainer? Statins are already given to millions of people worldwide to lower their cholesterol levels. Now, it seems, they can also halve the risk of heart attack in patients who are seemingly healthy.In a wide ranging study, the “Juipter” trial, , researchers tested the effects of rosuvastatin (Crestor) on almost 18, 000 patients from 26 countries, all of whom had low cholesterol levels but raised levels of an inflammation protein. The scientists expected there to be a moderate improvement in their prospects, but were amazed when it became clear that the statins were reducing the risk of heat attacks by 54% and strokes by 48%. In fact the benefits were so marked hat the trial was stopped early in March. The researchers believe hat the findings could lead to statins being prescribed more widely. However it must be noted that the participants were already at a small risk of heart attack and stroke; the statins simply made a small risk smaller.
This does not mean that we should eschew exercise knowing that there is a pill that will make us less likely to keel over. The benefits of exercise and good nutrition go well beyond preventing these two main killers, and also include hugely improved mental and physical well-being. So don’t cop out, remember that if all else fails and you can’t manage to get going then we can help with a personal trainer in London.